Text: Matthew 16:1-12
The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees is defined in Luke 12:1-3 as hypocrisy.
- Simulation; a feigning to be what one is not; or dissimulation, a concealment of one’s real character or motives.
- Simulation; deceitful appearance; false pretence.
Hypocrisy is the necessary burden of villainy.
An insincere request (vs 1)
- The fact that it is Pharisees and Sadducees together is important. These are two groups of people at opposite ends of the political and doctrinal spectrum who find common ground in making Jesus Christ the enemy. These are the self righteous conservatives and the self righteous liberals meeting together because this gospel business about Jesus Christ being the Son of God is getting out of hand.
- Let me ask you this, are they requiring a sign from the Lord because they genuinely want a sign so they can believe or are they requiring a sign from the Lord because they’re patronizing him? This is an insincere demand.
- Look at 1 Corinthians 1:21-23 because this verse is so often misapplied by good men. This verse explains exactly what these religious leaders are doing. The Jews who require a sign are not believers, nor is this a statement of how God will address the whole nation of Israel. In fact Jesus Christ said, NO SIGN shall be given except Jonah. Jesus Christ said only a wicked and adulterous generation looks for signs.
A gross lack of discernment (vss 2-3)
- You know when a storm is coming but you can’t tell when God’s wrath is coming?! And you’re the teachers of the law? You’re the guides in righteousness? What a mess!
- Now you look at your weather app or watch the weather channel and say, There’s a storm coming, or, It’s going to be cold tomorrow. But why would anyone be concerned about the weather tomorrow? To be properly prepared! Yet you won’t prepare for the coming of the LORD Jesus Christ?
- Jesus calls them hypocrites because they have enough sense to prepare for incoming weather conditions, but as ministers of the things of God make no preparations of their heart or their lives for the coming judgment of God!
- Hypocrisy is a gross lack of discernment. The hypocrite has deceived himself or herself into thinking he or she is something he or she is not. You’ll literally believe your own lies.
The rebel prophet (vs 4)
- God isn’t going to give signs to those requiring signs. He just points them to Jonah.
- Jonah is a rebel prophet unwilling to preach to Gentiles. In his disobedient heart he reluctantly preaches to Nineveh, just like the nation of Israel in their rebellion against God turned to the saving of Gentiles.
- Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
- The other part of Jonah’s sign is his death, burial, and resurrection – three days and three nights in the whale’s belly as the Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Interestingly enough Jonah is from Nazareth where Jesus is from.
A warning to beware (vss 5-12)
- The leaven is defined as hypocrisy. Remember that’s what Jesus Christ just called these Pharisees and Sadducees, O ye hypocrites.
- The reason to beware is compelling. Not because hypocrisy is bad to say one thing and do another. But because it will be found out and exposed by God. Believe it or not, this is part of the gospel according to Romans 2:16.
- The disciples misinterpret Jesus words (vss 7-11)
- Consider Christ’s audience (vs 12)
- Jesus Christ doesn’t tell the Pharisees or Sadducees to beware, he simply calls them hypocrites. Who is he telling to beware? People who are following Him.